Social Media Sunday: Facebook Kicked Out of India, Twitter's Downward Spiral, & Snapchat's New (Old) Partner
This week in social media was altogether pretty terrible for the two most significant networks: Facebook and Twitter. Facebook got kicked out of India and Twitter's growth has flatlined, sparking worries it might actually die. But with a potential big partnership with an influential old media company, Snapchat, meanwhile, is doing fine.
It's time for Social Media Sunday!
Free Basics Kicked Out of India
Facebook and its advocates argued that free Internet was a tool to help millions in developing countries to get online and begin participating in the globally connected Internet economy faster. They believed the program would lead to more access to information, and thus innovation, a rise in living standards, and all the other benefits portended by introducing information technology to the people and places that lack it.
Critics in India and elsewhere pointed to the fact that Facebook's underlying profit motive in expanding Facebook-centered services to potentially billions of new users in the country was obvious, and that Facebook's gatekeeper status in deciding which "free basic" services were included conflicted with the open foundational principles of the Internet itself. And in what amounts to terrible PR for Facebook this week, the word "colonialism" came up in those conversations over and over again.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India obviated any further debate this week when it ruled against differential price points for zero-rated (or "free") platforms, according to Tech Times, leading Facebook to pull the plug on Free Basics in India on Thursday. A day later, The Guardian reported that Facebook India's managing director Kirthiga Reddy announced she would be stepping down from her post.
Instagram Doubles Down on Video
In less defeating news this week for Facebook, Instagram announced that more people on the network were gravitating towards its relatively new video content. According to Fast Company, the time Instagrammers have spent watching videos has jumped by more than 40 percent. And now the company will boost its challenge to YouTube with an update that provides view counts for Instagram videos.
Big Trouble After Growth Flatlines
If Facebook had a bad week after getting kicked out of India, the company can at least take comfort in the fact that it's still growing and perceived by most investors in a relatively positive light.
Facebook's terrible India debacle has nothing on Twitter. This week Twitter moved into life-or-death territory after its latest quarterly earnings report showed its user base was flatlining.
As Latin Post previously reported, while Twitter's revenue growth and other financials were middling, but not the worst ever, its earnings report disclosed that the platform's monthly active user (MAU) count has completely stagnated.
This quarter, Twitter had 320 million MAUs, the same as it reported in the previous quarter. And if you strip down that user base to only active Twitter users who have the technological capability to be advertised to (i.e., excluding feature-phone users who access Twitter via SMS texting), it gets even worse. The smartphone-carrying MAU count actually declined by 2 million in the last quarter, from 307 million to 305 million.
Now talk of Twitter's death spiral is hitting a fever pitch, with some suggesting CEO Jack Dorsey reposition the company as a Wikimedia-style nonprofit model, and others urging a complete refresh and redesign, down to the core features it can't seem to attract more users to enjoy. Whichever path Dorsey decides on, it's clear he will have to act quickly and decisively.
Partnering with Viacom
Facebook and Twitter both had down weeks, but in the meantime, Snapchat reportedly made a new powerful partner this week: old-media giant Viacom.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Snapchat and Viacom signed a multi-year advertising agreement, giving the cable media giant exclusive third-party rights to directly sell advertising on behalf of the unicorn startup's content, for example "Live Stories."
Viacom would also further invest in making programming that meshes with Snapchat's ephemeral messaging service -- along with adding two new channels to Snapchat "Discover," where Viacom's Comedy Central and MTV, along with other Snapchat media partners like CNN, already have content channels.
The deal is being seen as a gateway for further legitimacy for Snapchat in advertising and media partnerships, and could help catalyze more lucrative parnerships with big advertisers looking to reach the social network's uniquely millennial-heavy user base.
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